When one R U OK Day is not enough

Curtin University’s Student Guild says the recent, national R U OK day is a wonderful opportunity to open up conversations about mental health but is only one part of a long-term fight.

Student Guild education vice-president Hana Arai. Photo: Guan Shen Png.

The Guild’s education vice-president Hana Arai said R U OK day is a positive initiative but, as it only happens once a year, cannot be expected to fix the issue in society.

“I think in a sense, R U OK day is great,” she said.

“It is easy to get that like … punch and get that outreach and just start those conversations.

“But, we need good mental health services available for [the whole] Australian community.

“It is not going to be sufficient as a stand alone.”

Ms Arai said all mental health issues should be taken seriously.

“There is a whole range of different mental health issues that people can be experiencing in society,” she said.

“We need a holistic approach when it comes to tackling mental health in Australia.”

She said certain groups in Australian society experience a higher risk of suffering mental health problems.

Curtin Student Guild’s Hana Arai on the importance of talking about mental health.
Curtin Student Guild president Chris Hall. Photo: Guan Shen Png.

Student Guild president Chris Hall said R U OK Day has wide cultural benefits because it encourages people to look out for their peers.

“I think having it one time in a year is probably not sufficient as we are seeing across the country,” he said.

“I think overall there should be more importance on the effects of mental health and the effects of stresses that young people now have which are unprecedented …”

He said the old “get up and get over it” attitude is not something that is effective or supportive.

“As students we are expected to balance a lot in out lives,” he said.

“The communication [about] what mental illness is and supporting young people get through these triumphs [are important].”

He said media companies and other large Australian organisations have a big role in providing support to people experiencing mental health difficulties.

The Guild’s Chris Hall on the importance of the mental health discussion in Australia.